Data Management and Communication
How to make Sustainable Visualizations of the Past. An EPOCH Common Infrastructure Tool for Interpretation Management
by Daniel Pletinckx
Current technology allows us to create 3D models of landscapes and man-made structures ever more easily, and to visualise these models in both interactive and non-interactive ways. In the 1980s, the idea arose at IBM to use this technology, which had been developed for designing and visualizing structures that still had to be built, also for visualization of structures that have not survived. Although there is no fundamental technological difference between visualizing structures that still need to be built and structures that have existed, there is a major methodological difference because our knowledge of the past is partial and uncertain. In fact, we are not able to reconstruct the past at all. Even for the recent past, we lack a lot of information fully to reconstruct structures that have disappeared. We can try to puzzle together all the information we have about a certain structure in a certain time period, and try to visualize this incomplete and uncertain information in the best possible way. This text explains the methodology for doing this in a robust and reproducible way. In fact, archaeological and historical researchers have been using similar methods already for a long time, but this methodology has not yet been implemented for 3D visualization, except for some pioneering efforts.
This paper explains and illustrates methods such as source assessment, source correlation and hypothesis trees that help to structure and document the transformation process from source material to 3D visualization. It also discusses the different approaches of 3D visualization in research and in public presentations, and presents a conceptual tool to assist in managing the interpretation process. The main objective of this paper is to propose a methodology and conceptual tool for making open, sustainable 3D visualizations of the past, thus turning computer-based visualization into an instrument that is accepted in both the research and public presentation domain. This conceptual tool is part of the EPOCH Common Infrastructure that provides concrete solutions for common problems in the cultural heritage domain.
The book includes a case study of the Saint Saviour Church in Ename, Belgium.
The order of illustrations below follows the book (please note the distinction between figures and plates).
Figure 17.10 Viel Rentier, Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels, MS 1175, f°8r° [not reproduced here]
[Figure 17.11 in the book is same as Plate 17.4 reproduced above, Excavation plan of the church of St Saviour in Ename.]